The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea James Marape says the capital Port Moresby will go into lockdown for a two-week period in a bid to contain community transmission of Covid-19.

Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 cases rose to 62 yesterday, with 23 new cases announced in a single day.

David Manning, Pandemic Controller, said that recently confirmed cases now included an expatriate mine worker in Bulolo, Morobe Province, two individuals from East New Britain, three from Western Province, one from Eastern Highlands Province, and more than 20 from the National Capital District.

Papua New Guinea has asked the World Health Organisation for help and Manning has issued nine new measures to cover international and domestic travel, co-ordination between the provinces, burials, customs duties and testing. There are also guidelines for business and social activities:

  • The closure of venues or parts of venues for the duration of the pandemic that provide night club activities and services
  • The PNG Sports Foundation to be responsible for approving sporting activities
  • An immediate ban on gatherings over 100 people
  • All markets to comply with social distancing requirements and safe and hygiene practices
  • Religious activities to continue but to comply with health protocols

‘We are seeing community transmission and I am therefore urging everyone to take our health message very seriously,’ said Paison Dakula, Deputy Controller on the National Pandemic Response.

‘You need to take responsibility of your health, your family, community and the country by wearing a mask, sanitising your hands or simply stay at home.’

As per Prime Minister Marape’s instruction, the use of masks is now mandatory in Port Moresby.

Manning says testing has been ‘very limited’ in the provinces.

"While there is no evidence of hospitals being overwhelmed, which may be due to delayed reporting or poor health checking, the country is preparing for large scale community transmission."